Digital Media: Life-Changing Online

Sharing Small Stories of Life and Death Online: Death-writing of the Moment

  • Korina Giaxoglou The Open University, UK
Keywords: sharing; small stories; digital narrative; death-writing; mourning

Abstract

This article discusses public (and semi-public) reactions to death events attracting media and social media attention, described here as spectacular death sharing online. Based on the empirical study of sample cases—predominantly involving the death of white, often young, adults—I show how different kinds of spectacular death events are shared as small stories. I explore the key types of death selected for sharing online, the linguistic and narrative styling of these selections and the networked uptake of the shared stories of life and death. Addressing sharing practices of life and death at these different levels arguably allows an insight into the way the tellability of death is extended in digital time-spaces and its implications for the visibility of death, dying, and mourning. Sharing life and death as small stories of the moment is found to involve practices of death-writing of the moment, which are intimately connected to salient forms of broadcasting the self-online as life-writing of the moment (Georgakopoulou 2017). This mode of sharing offers a window to broader tensions arising from public displays of emotion and the changing—and often antagonistic—forms of testimony in contemporary networked societies.

Author Biography

Korina Giaxoglou, The Open University, UK

Korina Giaxoglou is lecturer in English Language and Applied Linguistics at The Open University, UK. Her research lies at the intersection of linguistic anthropology, the sociolinguistics of narrative, and (mediated) discourse analysis. Her work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals, including Applied Linguistics Review; Discourse, Context, & Media; and the New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia. The publication of her research monograph on Sharing small stories of mourning online by Routledge is forthcoming. Email: korina.giaxoglou@open.ac.uk

Published
2019-05-18
Section
Digital Media: Life-Changing Online